From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
It's never too late. That's the lesson you might draw from the life of Alferd Williams, a sharecropper's son who had never learned to read. At the age of 68, he joined Alesia Hamilton's first-grade class in St. Joseph, Mo., mastering his ABCs and inspiring a school. It's also the guiding principle behind Jennifer Trubenbach's commitment to a Zimbabwean teenager named Beloved, whom she brought over to live with her family for nearly a year while he underwent surgery to repair his face, which had been disfigured by a land mine. These are some of the amazing men and women PEOPLE celebrated in our Nov. 24 issue with our Heroes Among Us Awards. This year, for the first time, we were delighted to further honor them, along with CNN's Heroes of the Year, at a very special event, CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute, hosted by Anderson Cooper. The event was scheduled to air on Thanksgiving, Thurs., Nov. 27, at 9 p.m. on CNN.

We are thrilled that our portraits of everyday heroism strike a chord with our readers. Since our story about Alferd Williams ran in April, for example, readers donated thousands of dollars of cash and book-store gift certificates; he also got to meet his favorite author, Bill Cosby. And we will continue to tell these stories for a reason: to reaffirm that goodness is very much part of our world, despite troubles and uncertainty, and to inspire readers to get involved in their schools, neighborhoods and places of worship with whatever skills and passions they bring. It's easy—just ask Alferd, 70, who plans to help others with reading and hopes to go to college someday. "You have to get out there," he says, "and do something."

LARRY HACKETT, MANAGING EDITOR